GOL Imposes Media Blackout on Costa

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Henry Costa (right) denied the government's accusations and cast the blame squarely on the Weah administration's refusal to issue him a license — an issue that questions President Weah's (left) resolve for press freedom despite decriminalizing free speech.

The government of President George Weah has threatened to shut down Radio D-15 hours after Henry Costa announced his return to the local airways via the Logan Town-based radio station.

The government’s move comes a year and a half after it forcefully closed down Costa’s Roots FM for operating without a license, although, according to court records, Costa’s broadcast license application had been submitted and was delayed indefinitely. The closure of Roots FM took place on the same day the talk show host, who has become the President’s fiercest critic, was on air discussing alleged wasteful spending by the Liberian leaders and other bad governance issues.

Costa denied the government’s accusations and cast the blame squarely on the Weah administration’s refusal to issue him a license — an issue that questions President Weah’s resolve for press freedom despite decriminalizing free speech.

Now in a new show of strength, the government has drawn up yet another episode of a faceoff with Costa in a bid to ensure that the President’s greatest nemesis no longer has access to Liberian airwaves—not while the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) is in charge.

In a Sunday evening rush-hour press release, Information Minister Ledgerhood Rennie warned media houses, especially radio stations, not to grant their platform to the tough-talking critic, who brands himself as a political commentator. ​

“The Government of Liberia’s attention is drawn to a social media post notifying the public of a plan by Radio Bushrod (D15 Radio) to begin hosting Henry Costa, who fled the country in 2020, after a writ was issued for his arrest in a criminal matter. Mr. Costa is still wanted by the law,” Min. Rennie said. The government informed the station’s Management that Costa, as a fugitive from Liberian justice, cannot host radio programs meant to communicate to the Liberian audience while in the United States. Any act contrary to said notice will be a violation of the terms of the permit issued by the Ministry of Information and licensing conditions promulgated under the Telecommunications Act of Liberia. 

Prior to the Press statement issued by the Ministry of Information, Henry Costa posted on his social media page that the Costa Show will return to radio on Monday, January 18, and that listeners should to tune into D-15 radio (98.1 FM). In a Facebook live video following the publication of the government’s statement, Mr. Costa described the latest release from the Coalition for Democratic Change led-government as “disgusting and tyrannical”. He said he will resist any action by the Government to stop D-15 radio from hosting the Costa Show.

Costa fled the country in 2020 after a writ of arrest was drawn up against him for having entered the country on a laissez-passer which, the government said, he obtained criminally. Since then, he has been living in the US, conducting his show via Facebook and expose ills in the government.  

Costa’s confinement to Facebook has limited his reach, due to rising data costs which prohibit his fans on the ground in Liberia from tuning in in their usual numbers. This situation led him to strike a deal with the Management of Radio Bushrod (D15-Radio), to facilitate his return to the airwaves. Radio Bushord was established by the late Representative Adolph Lawrence, the husband of the Liberty Party political leader, Senator Nyonblee Karna-Lawrence.

However, the government, being aware of Costa’s strength on the airwaves, appears unhappy to see him return on the airwave, and in no time released a statement alleging that Costa is a fugitive who escaped justice and, as such, cannot host radio programs meant to communicate to Liberian audience from his place of refuge in the United States.

The statement by the Weah administraton noted that any act to the contrary by the Radio Station would be a violation of the terms of the permit issued by the Ministry of Information and licensing conditions promulgated under the Telecommunications Act of Liberia.

The Government release added that any station, including D15, which continues in this path in utter violation of the laws of Liberia, would have their permit and license revoked.

“The use of the airwaves is a license, granted by the Liberian government to those who meet prescribed criteria,” the release said. “Everyone, including broadcasters, has to be held accountable for what they communicate. Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution states that every person shall have the right to freedom of speech, being responsible for the abuse thereof.”

It added: “If one is injured by a fugitive broadcasting from the United States, there would be no available redress. The Government has a responsibility to protect the public.”

The Information Minister stated that the government would leave no stone unturned in the scrupulous implementation of the laws of Liberia, with sensitivity to protecting the rights and obligations of free speech.

Meanwhile, the management of D15 has rubbished the government’s statement and argued that it is in the right to grant its platform to anyone it desires.

The station management added that it will not listen to the government and will move on with the show was expected and planned, whether the government likes it or not.

“Henry Costa will appear on the show tomorrow morning,” D-15 Radio Manager, Tomreen Kennedy explained. “If the government has issue with Costa, it’s important for them to communicate with the United States government to have the issues resolved.”

Kennedy continued: “It is mind-blowing that government will allow other radio stations to interview host Costa and want to deny the D-15 Radio station of hosting him. Until the government can show the law we will be violating, the hosting of Costa remains firm.”

The move by the government has so far angered many Liberians who believe that the GOL statement insinuates that the US government shields, harbors fugitives or people wanted for crimes in their countries. It also tends to contradict cordial cooperation on global security and adherence to national and global laws. 

Liberians are wondering why the Liberian government cannot file for Costa to be extradited if they think they have a genuine or legitimate case. But, the government’s inability to press for prosecution against Costa has led many to believe that the popular talk show host is being witch-hunted by the CDC regime.

18 COMMENTS

  1. YOUR PORTUGUESE HENRIQUE PEDRO COSTA FUGITIVE BACKSIDE is lucky that facebook an online platform is not licensed under Liberian jurisdiction. But if you have balls to resist, why cant your Portuguese backside return as you said you would return in May last year? Or is it May 2021 again? A damn coward and fugitive.

  2. Mr. Editor and Mr. Reporter, its a displayed massive deception, bizarre ignorance, and a disgusting idiocy, on your part to believe that presidential resolve for press freedom and the decriminalizing free speech are tantamount to nullifying THE PROTECTIVE PRINCIPLE, and granting statutory and constitutional immunity and impunity to the letter and spirit of the first clause of Article 15 of the Liberian Constitution which stipulates that “Every person shall have the right to freedom of expression, being fully responsible for the abuse thereof“!

    Good friends, under the protective principle which is one of the five bases of jurisdiction under international law, states assume jurisdiction over both aliens and ANYONE for acts done abroad but which may affect or endanger the national security of the state, and the safety and happiness of the people or population of the given nation.

    As a matter of fact, this principle is not founded necessarily on legal justification but on political considerations. So you must bear in mind that on top of that right, legitimacy, and powers, of a state to enforce international law within its jurisdiction, the statutory laws and the Constitution of Liberia mandates that government cannot and must never ever await the execution of seditious, treasonous, and or syndicalist, dangers before preventing the dangers of especially none other but a fugitive!

    Accordingly, the government has the rights, powers, and legitimacy, to intervene whenever, in the balancing of the rights of free speech, free press, etc. etc. of whosoever or whichever entity rights , and the rest of society to be free and protected from the clear and present dangers of a fugitive, etc. etc. notorious for his gross offenses and gross violations of statutory laws and the Constitution!

  3. Mr. or Mrs.True Nationalist so when did Mr. Costa become a ,fugitive? I know you live in America and listen to Fox, Russ Lamba and other talk show in this country, when has the government close down their radio station because of what they say on Air?

  4. Paul

    You couldn’t have said it any better. Gborvlehn is among those so-called native Liberians, who are continuously bent on planting discord and thus spreading the upsurge of tribal-nationalist supremacy doctrine.

    As soon as I heard the name Gbekugbeh sworn into office, I knew Liberia was going back to the days of Samuel Doe where our sense of national unity would be broken and the nation left divided.

    A strong correlation exists between certain types of governments that spring up in Liberia and the curse of tribal-nationalist supremacy. I say this without any grain of insults to the many brilliant scholars, who hailed from the Southeast; however, with Ellen being an exception in terms of the peace and the unity, which prevailed during her tenure, we have been unfortunate to present more Southeastern presidents to lead Liberia in the spirit of national unity and progress.

    There is a growing perception among Liberians that as soon as a government bearing the political complexion of Doe comes in office, tribal (ism) and rebel group mentality and insurgency gets on the rise. As a matter of fact sometimes tribal (ism) even goes as far as marginalizing large segments of the country simply because people who hail from those political subdivisions do not speak the president’s dialect or simply is not from the president’s sub-region. Nobody can better explain this phenomena than the respectable Dr. Kadiker Rex Dahn, whom I truly admire, for how he articulates “the effects of regional nepotism” and its gross socio-economic and socio-political disparities on our society.

    I wonder how Gborvlehn would feel if someone was to abuse him and thus include his tribal grouping. Can we not discuss the issues without including one’s ethnicity, tribe, sexual orientation and religion?

    If anyone feels that because he or she speaks a dialect or carries the longest poly-syllabic African name then he or she is better than the other Liberian, then that person is on the wrong side of history and needs a real soul searching on how to relate to other fellow Liberians.

  5. You are there talking about how someone would react or feel when his tribal group is being insulted. But you Costa aka Gonguamu Tarnue aka Paul, aka Ernest B. Johnson, Henry Pedro Costa went ahead to insult a whole nation and its people that they Liberians are backward and useless.

    Well, first you may have been only a fugitive to the Liberian Government. But with these new offenses from you, your reason for choosing to be a fugitive, may not surprisingly be stretched.

    And I am not surprised. This is exactly the behavior of most of them with non negro fathers. They always have that foolish mindset that despite the fact they need Liberia, and it is the only place they are counted as real human beings, that gets into their heads to insult Liberians of no European or Arab blood. This is why you see Costa the Portuguese boy insulting Liberia and Liberians in this manner.

  6. Only in shiftless Liberia could Costa live and strive by solely inciting political upheaval, or insurrection. Yet, some bookish blockheads brag of his ideal; for Pete’s sake, where did the “ideals” of past rabble-rousing revolutionaries of all stripes take Liberia? It took a fertile resource-rich country to a ghetto Capitol City where piles of open ‘pupu’ in the streets symbolize the lot of 80% of our people.

    As for secret gangs of terrorists that believe unsolved murders are fair game in politics, a day of reckoning is near. Tackling the economy should be a collective effort. Because, frankly, neither a CDC Coalition government nor a CPP Collaboration government would do it alone. Let’s stop selling the perennial false hopes that haven’t changed the conditions of majority of our people since 1847.

  7. Henrique Pedro Costa once declared that he wasn’t a member of the press, but a politician making commentary on national affairs, therefore must forfeit license reserved for bonafide members of the PUL. He cannot have his cake, and eat it too. Not to mention that only in our shiftless country could he live and strive by solely inciting upheaval or insurrection. As for bookish blockheads that broached his so-called ideal, what did “ideals” of past rabble-rousing revolutionaries did for Liberia? Pervasive poverty, disunity, and selling of false hopes have wrought physical, mental, and spiritual havoc on the vast majority of our people. Rubbish.

  8. Oh well, I didn’t see the first comment, and posted another to ensure that my voice, as an advocate for stability, is heard here.

  9. James Davis, at no time or nowhere that parliamentary election can hinder or determines the presidential election outcome as you may claimed. It may not go line with political party affiliation. It is solely sentimental base on personality, ethnicity and religious affiliation. Although it may bring some mishap feeling to loser. So your insinuation is baseless and have no true translation into reality.

    To my dear brother Costa, don’t be in missing -in- action and want your voice to be heard! If you want your message to be clearly understood by your fans, come back in Liberia and settle yourself. Don’t be in absentia to be negatively inciting the public on unfounded theories. The government will be right to abrogate license from any radio station that may not adhere to its message. These are the necessary action government should be taking in order to save the state from further violence. Majority of the Liberian society lack true understanding and they rely on the media to feed them with information. So government allowing the media to speak too much without responsibbility in the name of freedom of speech is dangerous and tantamount to derail our peace. Liberia is not only belongs to George Weah’s and his administration, Liberia is belongs to all Liberians. If the goverment shortfall in certain areas, and you as individual or institution have the power or strength to logically correct to errors or defaults will be an welcoming idea, what’s we called patriotism; because today or tomorrow George Weah’s and his administration will go, and Liberia would still remain, so what would be the reason for us to destroy our country for the sake one person as we did in the past. From the foundation of this country, politicians are the worse enemies of this country, they show no love or true patriotism for the state, but instead continue to negatively incite adherents against the state they fighting to honestly govern. OK!, let me lay down some typical examples, in 2011, the Obama’s administration headed by the Democrats, initiated a Democratic reform bid which aim at getting raid of all longer saving leaders around the world which affected leader like Muhammad Gaddafi and many other leaders in Africa and the Middle east. The question here is with the ousting or brutally killing of these leaders, what changes it has brought to these countries?, the answer here is no changes! They even regretting their step of actions by killing leader like Gaddafi’s.

    So in my own independent view I preempt that Henry Costa is a serious threat to our peace. Therefore, we all need to give the government our unleashing support to constitutionally deal with him in order to save our fragile peace.

  10. James Davis

    Please understand the meaning of “shiftless” in its context above. For instance, when institutional incapacity causes terrorists to get away with wanton murders and government blamed, when economic saboteurs cannot be held accountable for hoarding the local currency, when failed economic policies that keep precious mineral wealth in the hands of few are recycled, and when annual budgetary projections are stuck on USD $500 million, with about 80% allocated to compensation packages and recurrent expenditures, the electorate would vote for any snake oil salesperson. Like I said, no one pressure group, or coalition of political parties can provide a panacea to Liberia’s many problems in this 21st Century. We either unite to find solutions, or keep on destroying our country until the U.N put her under trusteeship. Rubbish.

  11. James Davis

    Perhaps, you forgot that Henrique Pedro Costa and Senator Darius Dillon in 2019 actually went to the White House to lobby for a regime-change uprising in Liberia because the American President was then pushing one in Venezuela. Intelligence capacity is the first line of defense in any country, but professionals at home are sitting idle while noisy amateurs take charge. Tabatta.

  12. And it is very insulting and of course annoying that this very fugitive Henrique Pedro Costa is a Portuguese! How on earth have found ourselves even dealing with such an alien who is even on public international record and domestic national security records for threatening national security, and attempting treason and sedition! At least it is so good FATE has nibbed in the bud his nonsense, as we the masses have gotten the full intelligence that his not really a Liberian, but indeed, A PORTUGUESE.

    At least if he were a Gonyon, a Kiazolu, a Himea, a Johnson, a Dogba Kollie, or Welemongar, etc. etc., or Gongloe, etc., we would understand! But a Costa a Portuguese! No that is totally unacceptable especially with his ploy to use journalism to extort money and destabilize the country to total destruction.

  13. It seems this proposed restriction on free speech, violence against the man, and anti-diversity (racist/nationalist) chatter threatens the cut off of US and European Union aid to Liberia. Cool down. Everyone is so scared of a man’s words to make such noise?

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